Myth vs. Fact: Debunking the Gun Lobby’s Favorite Talking Points

The gun lobby, led by the National Rifle Association (NRA), pursues a number of different policies in state legislatures across the country and in Congress, including eliminating permit requirements for concealed carry; expanding locations where guns may be carried; weakening regulation of the gun industry; and overriding duly enacted state laws that limit gun carrying. While each of these policies have different elements, all are united by a core set of dangerous and misleading arguments perpetuated by the NRA that more guns in more hands will lead to increased personal and community safety. Below are some of the top NRA-promulgated myths and the facts that expose them as false. Myth: Owning a gun makes you safer Fact: Owning a gun puts you at heightened risk for gun violence The NRA often argues that the United States is a dangerous place and that owning and carrying a gun is the...

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5 Things to Watch in President Trump’s Skinny Budget

by Harry Stein and Scott Nathan – President Donald Trump is preparing to release the first budget proposal of his administration. While this budget likely will only provide limited details on President Trump’s plans—thus why it is nicknamed the “skinny budget”—it will still give the American people a clear look at Trump’s policy agenda and the priorities of his new administration. The skinny budget will not address taxes, and it will only address discretionary spending, the programs that Congress funds in annual appropriation bills. Discretionary spending comprises about one-third of federal spending, and it does not include major programs such as Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. In fiscal year 2018, after a two-year hiatus as a result of the 2015 budget deal, discretionary programs will once again be threatened by harsh spending caps known as sequestration. In the past, lawmakers have passed temporary bipartisan budget agreements to provide equal increases for...

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World’s First Solar Road Producing More Energy Than Expected

By KATIE VALENTINE, ThinkProgress – In its first six months of existence, the world’s first solar road is performing even better than developers thought. The road, which opened in the Netherlands in November of last year, has produced more than 3,000 kilowatt-hours of energy — enough to power a single small household for one year, according to Al-Jazeera America. “If we translate this to an annual yield, we expect more than the 70kwh per square meter per year,” Sten de Wit, a spokesman for the project — dubbed SolaRoad — told Al Jazeera America. “We predicted as an upper limit in the laboratory stage. We can therefore conclude that it was a successful first half year.” De Wit said in a statement that he didn’t “expect a yield as high as this so quickly.” The 230-foot stretch of road, which is embedded with solar cells that are protected by...

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Key Safety System Not Installed at Site of Deadly Amtrak Derailment

By Gregg Levine, Al Jazeera – A system Amtrak itself hailed as “the most important rail safety advancement of our time” and mandated for all United States commuter lines by the end of this year was not in operation on the section of track that was the site of Tuesday’s deadly train derailment. The system, known as Positive Train Control (PTC), is a package of equipment and communications upgrades designed to track and control train speed and location “to prevent train-to-train collisions, derailments caused by excessive speed and certain human-caused incidents such as misaligned track switches.” PTC is also said to provide enhanced protection for rail workers along the tracks by slowing or stopping trains near work zones. PTC rules were originally proposed in 2010 but faced concerns that the 2015 deadline would be tough to meet because of the competing interests and differing technological standards among the...

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New Paper Finds Gains from Multilateral Trade Liberalization to Be ‘Extremely Small’

IMF’s Own Modeling Shows Gains of About 43 Cents Per Person, Per Month, in the US Washington, D.C.– A new paper from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) examines recent IMF research on gains from multilateral trade liberalization, as under the WTO. This research shows that gains would be equal only to about 0.014 percent of consumption, or about 43 cents per person, per month, in the United States. The CEPR paper, “The Gains from Trade in a New Model from the IMF: Still Very Small” by David Rosnick, examines modeling by the IMF, which claims to find that WTO agreements to liberalize trade are worth more than previously thought. CEPR’s paper shows that in fact the gains are relatively small. “This paper again raises the question of whether the trade-offs that workers and consumers make in so many areas — including lowered safety and environmental standards, higher prices for pharmaceuticals and...

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